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Houston Chronicle - Project Walk Bring Normalcy to Paralyzed Clients

Project Walk bring normalcy to paralyzed clients

Rod Evans, Published 1:27 pm CDT, Friday, July 17, 2015

Brooks Dremely was living out his dream of racing in motocross and was on the path toward gaining semi-pro status in the highly competitive sport when things went horribly wrong.

During a 2013 practice session in Houston, Dremely, who was 17 at the time and a student at Ridgepoint High School, fell on-track, resulting in a broken neck, which left him paralyzed from the neck down. Over the next six months, Brooks, his parents, Fort Bend County residents Mark and Cindy Dremely, and his older sister, Shelby, handled the devastating news as best they could while enduring extended hospital stays and recovery at Houston’s renowned TIRR Memorial Hermann facility.

“We went through the whole TIRR process and they took great care of him,” Cindy Dremely said. “Because he was in such great physical shape at the time, he quickly met all of the medical goals they have for people with that type of injury. They told him, ‘You’ve met all of your goals,’ but Brooks said, ‘No, I’m not done yet.’ That made Mark and I search for what’s next and that’s when we came upon Project Walk.”

Founded in 1999 in Carlsbad, Calif., Project Walk Paralysis Recovery Centers is widely regarded as the leader in paralysis recovery and helps clients gain improved quality of life through individually-targeted training programs. The Dremelys spent the next year traveling back and forth to California, where Brooks, who is now paralyzed from the chest down, would spend an intense week of training, but the strain the schedule put on the family caused Mark and Cindy to wonder if there wasn’t a better way to get the same level of care closer to home.

“We started asking why don’t they have this in Houston? There was a similar facility in Dallas, but we learned of (Project Walk) franchise opportunities available, so we purchased a franchise and here we are,” said Dremely, who prior to opening the gym, worked as a school teacher in the Fort Bend ISD for over 25 years.

The Dremely’s opened their 5,000-square foot gym located at 3281 Rocky Creek Drive in Missouri City in December with just two trainers. The brightly colored gym now features four trainers and Cindy says the client base is growing steadily.

“We see ourselves as another tool in the tool kit for someone who has paralysis. TIRR has been very supportive and they send clients to us if they think they’re a good fit. Word of mouth has been good and we pull in people from all over the Houston area. We have some clients from Oklahoma and Louisiana who come in for a week of training,” Dremely said.

One of the key attractions of Project Walk is that it looks like a traditional gym, with brightly colored walls adorned with motivational words like “Knowledge,” “Determination,” and “Results” and a sound system pumping out high energy music. For the clients, it’s a welcome relief from the often sterile environment of the hospital or physical therapist’s office.

“I like the atmosphere here. It’s good energy and it helps a lot more than traditional therapy,” said Kayla Goldwitz, 18, who’s been training at Project Walk since February.

The gym’s trainers, all of whom have degrees in exercise science, possess special skills and knowledge of the body and its muscular and nervous systems.

“We put them in position to succeed with what we’re doing. A lot of places put them on a table and want to coach them into doing these movements that they don’t connect to,” said trainer Ross LaBove. “We put them in position to start re-learning some of these movements.”

“We work from the ground up,” trainer Kris Vierra said. “We always assess their needs and start like an infant would. They have to sit by themselves, then be on their hands and knees, then learn to stand, then learn to walk. No client has been able to skip any steps because we build from the bottom to kind of hijack signals that are there and make them be used for what they were designed for even though they may not be being used for that now. We build foundations based on that and every workout is 100 percent tailored to the individual.”

Dremely says the gym’s services are available for a basic fee of $100 per hour and no memberships are required.

“It’s up to what the client’s needs are,” Dremely said. “We do the initial assessment where we test every muscle in the body and devise a program that fits them. People can have the same spinal injury, but it can be present in the body in totally different ways.”

Dremely says the gym does not accept insurance and they plan to hold fundraisers, such as the Project Walk Fun Run & Roll on September 19 at Ridgepoint High School, to help support clients in need of financial support in order to train at the gym. For more information, visit


Source: Houston Chronicle,


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